US State Department suspends Ugandan HIV organisation over police raid

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Following a police raid on a US-funded HIV clinic in Uganda, the State Department has suspended funding.

The Makere Uniersity Walter Reed Project (MUWRP) was on Thursday raided by police, accused of “training youths in homosexuality.”

One man, Frank Mugisha, was arrested during the raid and interrogated. He said: “A lot of LGBTI people found it comfortable to go there for anti-retroviral treatment.”

Now the US State Department has announced that the administration is “deeply concerned” that a US-funded facility would be raided, but said it would ensure care remained for those who needed it.

Marie Harf, a spokeswoman for the Department said Mugisha was accused of “unethical research” and “recruiting homosexuals”.

“This incident significantly heightens our concerns about respect for civil society and the rule of law in Uganda, and for the safety of LGBT individuals,” said Harf.

“The MUWRP is engaged in efforts to improve public health and save lives. The Ugandan government is responsible for protecting all of its people, and attacks and intimidation of health care workers are unacceptable. The safety of health workers must be respected. We have temporarily suspended the operations of MUWRP to ensure the safety of staff and beneficiaries, and the integrity of the program.”

“We are working with police to understand the circumstances under which this person was detained. Until we have greater clarity as to the legal basis for the police action, the operations of the program are temporarily suspended to ensure the safety of staff and the integrity of the program. We are working directly with the patients of MUWRP to ensure there is no interruption in their care,” she continued.

This is one of the first official announcements of operations seeking to persecute gay people under a new law enacted earlier this year, harshening penalties for those convicted of homosexuality, including life imprisonment.

The legislation was celebrated on Monday by a public rally, attended by President Yoweri Museveni, whio accused Western gays of promoting homosexuality.

President Yoweri Museveni gave assent to a law further criminalising same-sex sexual activity in Uganda earlier this year. The law calls for repeat offenders to be sentenced to 14 years in prison and makes it a criminal offence not to report someone for being gay.